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The original item was published from 12/7/2023 10:23:00 AM to 12/7/2023 6:34:52 PM.

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Posted on: December 7, 2023

[ARCHIVED] Town starts 2024 budget debates

firefighters

The Town of Banff has published the 2024 Service Review and Budget documents to kick off the annual Council deliberations on the level of municipal services and construction projects, their costs and any new programs for residents or removed projects.

The review examines each municipal department’s services that the community relies on every day – from road and sidewalk snow clearing to public transit and traffic management, from police and fire protection to housing, parks and recreation, and from community and social services to water, sewer and garbage/recycling/composting services. 

Key projects will be reviewed, such as grant-funded incentives and services to stimulate housing development and heritage property preservation on December 6, increases to transit service, a $1.6 million investment in upgrades to the wastewater treatment system, and partnership on a bike lane and connector on Compound Road to the Industrial District scheduled for December 13, and the future of the Downtown Pedestrian Zone on December 18. The documents also detail revenue estimates and the cost to deliver all services and programs across more than 20 municipal service areas. 

10.4% tax increase 

The starting point for the base budget – to provide unchanged current level of services – would require a 10.4% property tax increase, made up of 5% to cover inflationary costs, plus 5.4% in previously approved programs. Examples of previously approved enhancements include the full annual salary for an additional RCMP officer, a director of emergency management and about $700,000 to help build back the capital reserves for infrastructure renewal. The capital reserves had been un-funded since 2020 when Banff Council cut taxes 17% as a measure to help businesses and residents affected by the COVID pandemic.

For a typical residential dwelling assessed at $467,100, the base budget would increase property taxes by about $9.85 for taxpayers with a monthly payment plan, or $118 for the year. Expenditures in the base budget to pay for all services amounts to about $2 per day, per capita, in residential taxes.

If council adds items to the base budget, for every $202,300 in tax-funded service levels, property taxes would increase 1%.

Banff residents are invited to review the Service Review documents and provide feedback for Council consideration. People can provide input in two ways: by submitting an email to the Municipal Clerk identifying the topic or service and their suggestion, or by registering to speak directly to Council on a specific topic on the date assigned for the topic area. 

Budget documents, the schedule of topic dates and directions for submitting input are available at banff.ca/ServiceReview

Background

The Town cut municipal property taxes by 17% in 2020 to reduce the impact on residents and businesses affected by the COVID crisis. Most reductions were managed by reducing staff hours, holding back wage increases below the level of inflation, and cutting transfers to reserves that fund future programs, such as infrastructure maintenance and renewal. 

Since the 2019 pre-pandemic year, the taxation change each year would amount to an average annual increase of 3.9%, during a period that had 3.1% inflation each year, averaged over the period from 2019 to 2024. 

The draft budget includes projects that may help achieve Council’s strategic priorities for the community in areas such as affordability, sustainable transportation, environmental leadership and critical partnerships.

The budget documents include potential projects and program enhancements identified through the year that Council will debate during the service review. Planned and possible 2024 projects include:

  • Enhancements to transit service to increase frequency in winter of Banff town routes, extend summer season frequency, additional early bus service to the Industrial District, and more weekend service on the Canmore-Banff commuter route
  • Funding to expand the free Library of Things borrowing inventory
  • Temporary patios on Caribou Street for restaurants
  • Funding for another heavy equipment mechanic to service town and Roam fleets
  • Grants to help homeowners add secondary rental suites in their property
  • Funding to study feasibility of launching a car-share program in Banff
  • Creating an express bus lane and dedicated bike lane on Mountain Avenue
  • Designing a separated 2-way bicycle on Compound Road, connecting the Legacy Trail with the Industrial District, and working with Parks Canada to allow this development outside the town boundary
  • Funding to continue the Halloween event for residents
  • Creation of a disc golf course, if permitted by Parks Canada
  • Continuing work on the Recreation Grounds renewal, such as an expanded adventure playground, new bike pump track/skills park, and skating rink

 Banffites have an opportunity to speak at a non-statutory public input section of each meeting, if presenting on the topic or service for the designated day. The full schedule is at banff.ca/ServiceReview. Residents may also submit input by email before the start of the service review process by emailing municipal.clerk@banff.ca.  

Budget deliberation is expected to continue into January 2024 before the final budget is set. 

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